High-power microwave surface flashover of a gas-dielectric interface at 90-760 torr

Gregory Edmiston, John Krile, Andreas Neuber, James Dickens, Hermann Krompholz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The major limiting factor in the transmission of high-power microwave (HPM) has been the interface between dielectric-vacuum or, even more severely, between dielectric-air, if HPM is to be radiated into the atmosphere. Extensive studies have identified the physical mechanisms associated with vacuum-dielectric flashover, as opposed to the mechanisms associated with air-dielectric flashover, which are not as well known. Surface-flashover tests involving high field enhancement due to the presence of a triple point have shown that volume breakdown threshold (dielectric removed) is approximately 50% higher than the flashover threshold with a dielectric interface over the 90-760 torr range. In order to quantify the role of field enhancement in the flashover process independent of electron injection from metallic surfaces, the effects of the triple point are minimized by carefully choosing the geometry, and in some cases, the triple point is "removed" from the flashover location. Experimental results were presented, including the impact of gas pressure and the presence of UV illumination, along with temperature analysis of the developing discharge plasma and temporally resolved images of the flashover formation. These results are compared with literature data for volume breakdown in air, with discussion on the similarities and differences between the data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1782-1788
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Plasma Science
Issue number5 I
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Atmospheric
  • Breakdown
  • Dielectric surface
  • High-power microwave (HPM)
  • Surface flashover


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